Bring Your Baguette Dough To Work Day

by A.J. Coltrane

Earlier this week we came into possession of a goodly amount of Chanterelles. As in previous years, that meant we’d pass them along to Iron Chef Leftovers, and he’d cook dinner for us. (More on that later.)

We needed something to sop up sauce, and a regular No-Knead Bread wasn’t going to fit into the schedule, time-wise. I chose instead to go with overnight-rise baguettes. The recipe was a fairly standard french bread dough:  450 grams bread flour, 270 grams water (60% hydration), 10 grams salt (2.2%), and 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (the same amount of yeast as is in the “regular” No Knead Bread.)

The thing was, I also chose not to do an initial knead.

In the morning the dough wasn’t looking promising. There was very little sign of fermentation, and the dough was nowhere near evenly hydrated — there were clumps of almost dry flour.

151006 dough

So I brought the dough to work with me. About every 90 minutes I did a few stretch and folds on the dough and tried to pinch out the really dry parts, then I snuck off to the washroom to rinse the bits of sticky dough off of my hand. (I needed to keep a non-doughy hand for the restroom door, right?)

By the time I got home, the dough was ready to be shaped. To do that:

1.  On a lightly floured counter, cut the dough mass into three mostly equal pieces, then spread the pieces out into rectangles about 8″ x 6″ x 1/2″

2.  Roll up the rectangles, leaving an 8″ long tube.

3.  Use your hands to roll/stretch the doughs on the counter until they are just shorter than a baguette pan. (Start from the centers and work outward.)

4.  Line the baguette pan with floured linen, place the doughs into the linen, then cover with more linen and let rise for 30 minutes.

5.  While the doughs are doing their final rise, put 3 cups of water into a large dutch oven. (No lid) Place the dutch oven on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F.

6.  When the oven is really steamy, remove the linen from the baguette pan, score the doughs, and bake them for 10 minutes.

7.  After 10 minutes, remove the dutch oven, turn the baguette pan around, and bake for another 7-10 minutes.

151006 loaves


For years, I’ve been messing with different ways of producing steam in the oven. I think I’ve finally found a method that I’m happy and comfortable with — I don’t want to spray the sides of my oven, and the other techniques that I’ve tried haven’t made adequate steam.

But three cups of water in a 7 quart dutch oven seems to work pretty slick. Learning!

151006 slices2

Also, 450F is warmer than I’ve historically baked baguettes. I think the crust came out better than usual, so my current plan is stick with that temperature going forward, or perhaps try an even hotter oven.


The bread was an accompaniment to best Best. Dinner. Evar. Iron Chef Leftovers totally topped himself, and I can say with all honesty that I’ve never had a better meal.

151006 dinner

[Smoked Pork Loin with Chanterelle Cognac Cream Sauce. Chanterelle and Saffron Rissoto.]


I feel like I’m finally starting to get a “system” of steps for baguettes. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I feel like I’ve now worked out enough variables that progress should be easier to quantify — I won’t be stabbing in the dark quite as much as I have been.

And as always, failure is an option, but the end results taste good regardless.



10 thoughts on “Bring Your Baguette Dough To Work Day

  1. In this case I left it on the counter — the amount of yeast I used was the same as for the No-Knead recipe, and the hydration was much lower than in a No-Knead (60% vs 75%). It wasn’t going to go far even at room temperature.

    I think I prefer the taste of the acids that develop at room temperature, as compared to the refrigerator. For more info, read this post from 2012:

    The Money Excerpt (Quoting from the post, which is quoting the Bread Bible):

    “…When chilled, the yeast goes into dormancy, slowing its activity and producing more alcohol. The decreased activity gives the bacteria a chance to feed on the sugar, develop more, and produce more acetic acid. Temperatures of 40F to 50F are ideal for the formation of acetic acid; 55F to 90F results in the formation of blander lactic acid. Acetic acid imparts a far more sour quality to bread than lactic acid. As an added benefit, acetic acid also strengthens the dough’s structure, although too much of this acidity would ultimately weaken it. Some bakers prefer the milder flavor provided by lactic acid.”

    2012… Time flies.


  2. Since we keep our house pretty cold and turn the heat off overnight, I will have the best of both. Half the rise will be during the fridge-like overnight, and half will be under warmer conditions. Mostly, I just need to figure out how to get more ‘loft’ out of my long rise. Today’s attempt was tasty, but they were little more than glorified breadsticks.


  3. Second batch was better, but still closer to stick than baguette. Flavor and crust are great; I’m just not getting a good rise. But my yeast is a year out of date, which may be a factor. I get two fairly good rises, but they balk at the proof.


  4. THANK YOU for the baguette recipe, will try it at home this week. And so glad to see that others are picking chanties! Love picking when I get a chance to hunt for them.


  5. Still not a good enough rise on my third batch, and they are coming out more brown than golden. I may have to play with the cooking temp also (ovens vary). I did try using a heavy-bottom paella pan instead of the cast-iron; steam level and crust were the same, but it didn’t ruin the seasoning of my Lodge pan, so that’s a “win.”

    I haven’t been using “bread machine” yeast. I’m trying Saf brand yeast next time. Also, I learned that keeping it in the freezer will extend the yeast’s life by years.


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